Michele Bachmann, like the rest of congress, is on recess during the month of August. Normally, she'd spend recess on the swings or practicing her cheer routines.
But this year, she's running for President of the United States of Iowa, which means she's zooming around on a moment's notice: Last week she had to race back to the Capitol to vote against raising the debt ceiling, and now she's on the way back to campaign in Iowa before the all-important August 13 Ames Straw Poll.
While Bachmann tools around in a high-priced charter jet, she can rely on the service of the Federal Aviation Administration, even though she and the rest of congress forgot to fund the FAA before they went on a break.
Presently, 4,000 FAA employees are furloughed until the agency's funding is restored. Many of those out of a job work in research -- as in, the people trying to make safer, faster airplanes.
Others, like essential inspectors who make sure the things can actually get in the air and come down without exploding, are working without salary and paying travel expenses out of pocket during the recess.
During the waiting period, the FAA can't even collect taxes, which run about $30 million a day. This is great news for a government that's broke already. You want your Medicare and Social Security? Just ask Delta and American Airlines, they'll help you out.
On Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged politicians not to leave Washington, D.C. until FAA funding was in place.
"Members of Congress should not get on a plane to fly home for vacation without passing an FAA bill and putting thousands of people back to work," LaHood said. "Congress needs to do its job for the good of these workers, for the good of our economy and for the good of America's aviation system."
Wrong, Ray. Congress doesn't need to do anything it doesn't care about.
In fairness, the refusal to fund the FAA is the fault of every member of congress, and not just one nutty Minnesotan. But most representatives aren't traveling like Michele Bachmann.
According to her last reports with the Federal Election Comission, Bachmann racked up a huge bill in private jet service from Moby Dick Airways, Ltd., spending more than $75,000 in the short time between mid-June and the end of July.
Huh, that's funny. Bachmann hasn't paid that debt yet, either. So she's flying in a plane she didn't pay for, and getting service from FAA employees she's not paying, either.
Michele Bachmann: She's just like you, America.